Well, it’s been an almighty fun ride but it’s over;.Euro 2020 has been and gone like a flash. I hope you didn’t blink.
We’ve experienced just about every emotion available to our species thanks to eye-catching, fingernail-biting, and eyeball-gluing football over the course of a jam-packed month – and a fair portion of those thrills were produced by Our 21.
Prior to Euro 2020, we at 90min selected the 21 best Under-21 players that would feature at the tournament. Some exceeded any expectation we ever had of them.
Let’s see how they all got on…
He justified the tag by walking straight into the England side for their opening games, and almost raised the roof off Wembley within ten minutes of the Three Lions’ Euro 2020 campaign by hitting the post against Croatia.
He without a doubt showed his worth on occasion, but unfortunately lost his role in the starting XI as the tournament progressed. His final contribution came in a bright and threatening 25-minute stretch in the semi-final against Denmark, although wasn’t involved at all against eventual champions Italy in the final.
It was a good showing for the 21-year old, but he’ll have left wanting more.
With Frenkie De Jong, Marten De Roon and Georginio Wijnaldum ahead of you in the pecking order, you may as well find a comfortable space on the bench.
Ryan Gravenberch didn’t get too many opportunities to impress, coming on for a quarter of an hour against Austria before playing the full 90 for the Netherlands in their final group game against North Macedonia.
While not the loftiest of opposition, the teenager showed what he’s about. A skilful, solid, composed, and progressive performance against the North Macedonians was proof enough that he’ll be on the international scene for many years to come.
Not much can be said about Pedri, except that he is stupidly brilliant.
Coming into Euro 2020, it was unsure just how much of a role he’d be given by Luis Enrique. Well, as it turned out, he was Spain’s most influential and crucial player throughout their run to the last four.
Tenacious, intelligent, staggeringly technical with ridiculous vision and a generational knack for opening up matches with slight movements and passes – we all found ourselves asking: “How is this little fella only 18?!’
It’s not hard to see why Ronald Koeman left him out of his Barcelona side just once during the 2020/21 campaign and it’s even easier to see why he missed just one minute of La Roja’s Euro 2020.
He’s not becoming a star; he already is one. And at just 18, there is still an unimaginable lot to see from him.
On the back of a fantastic season with Real Sociedad, many of Sweden’s hopes were piled on Alexander Isak in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
While the 21-year old failed to notch a goal, he left a lot to be excited about.
His movement, link up play, ability to run in possession or drop deep to get the ball, as well as movement in behind looked accomplished throughout his tournament.
He demonstrated a versatility in advanced positions that caused problems to all that faced him, and he finished Euro 2020 with two assists to prove he’s more than just a goal scorer.
Nuno Mendes is undoubtedly a brilliant prospect, but he couldn’t push his way past Raphael Guerreiro to earn a single minute throughout Portugal’s run to the round of 16.
He made the bench twice, and sat out completely on two other occasions. It’s a tournament to forget for the 19-year old – and Portugal in general – but he’ll certainly be back again.
Jeremy Doku managed two appearances at Euro 2020 and, while he showed good moments against Finland in the group stage, it was against Italy in the quarter-final where he gave us a true glimpse of his quality.
In Eden Hazard’s injury-enforced absence, the 19-year old got the nod and proved to be Belgium’s most potent attacking threat. Italy were rattled by the Rennes man’s direct and explosive pace, with which he won his side a penalty.
There’s more to come from Doku and, with that staggering speed, he’s a real weapon.
Christoph Baumgartner featured in all of Austria’s matches leading to the round of 16 exit at the hands of the Italians.
The 21-year old never totally dazzled in the tournament but was important to his side with decent movement and a slight creative edge – performances that have reinforced links with Liverpool.
He may not be truly remembered for this summer, but he nevertheless provided a crucial moment, scoring the only goal in his country’s 1-0 victory over Ukraine in the group stage.
Contrary to what Roy Keane may tell you, it wasn’t all Joao Felix’s fault.
It was truly a tournament to forget for the 21-year old. He was benched for Portugal’s opening game before an injury kept him out of action for the second.
The Atletico Madrid forward eventually got some minutes in the round of 16 – chucked into the mix to try and save his country’s campaign from defeat to Belgium.
It won’t come as a surprise that he couldn’t quite do it all himself and, while his side improved following his introduction, he eventually said an early goodbye.
After Scotland’s 0-0 draw with England at Wembley on matchday two, there was an understandable buzz around Billy Gilmour.
While calls for the teenager to receive the Ballon d’Or might have been a stretch, he did impress and demonstrated why he’s so highly regarded.
Unfortunately, a positive Covid-19 result kept him out of action after that match, and the Scots bid farewell following defeat to Croatia in the final group stage match.
Mikkel Damsgaard attracted a lot of interest and garnered a lot of attention for his stunning Euro 2020 campaign.
A real contender for Our 21’s player of the tournament, Damsgaard assumed talismanic responsibility following Christian Eriksen’s on-pitch collapse on matchday one.
His exceptional movement, creative flair, neat feet and goal threat mirrored the qualities of Eriksen, while his collective attitude was representative of the sheer strength and togetherness of Denmark’s squad.
His two goals and assist for his country on their road to the last four was evidence of his importance to the side and, based on his summer’s work, he could be getting a big move sooner rather then later.
Dejan Kulusevski’s campaign didn’t kick off brightly, being kept out of Sweden’s 0-0 draw with Spain matchday one with Covid-19 issues before not coming off the bench against Slovakia on matchday two.
However, the Juventus man did get to show why he’s considered one for the future in the Swede’s two subsequent fixtures.
Two assists in Sweden’s 3-2 win over Poland in the group stage helped his side reach the knockouts, where he was one of his country’s brightest sparks.
While it ended badly for Kulusevski and his nation – losing out in dramatic fashion to Ukraine in the last 16 – we saw just what a threat this young man can be.
North Macedonia swiftly became everyone’s favourite underdogs at Euro 2020.
A team clearly there to relish the opportunity and make themselves proud, they were epitomised none more so by the plucky, confident, wide-eyed, and front-footed Eljif Elmas.
Obviously his impact couldn’t inspire North Macedonia to the knockout stage and one of the unlikeliest stories in football, but he played without shackles, and entertained with his cool, silky, forward-thinking style.
It’s no surprise he’s on the books of a club as big as Napoli.
Roberto Mancini was keen to rotate his squad during Italy’s eventual Euro 2020-winning campaign, in the aim of giving everyone a run around.
Giacomo Raspadori managed 15 minutes in the final stages of the Azzurri’s final group stage game against Wales – but you’d probably forgotten that.
He won’t give a damn though – he’s got a Euro 2020 winner’s medal, unlike any other player on this list.
Unfortunately, Jamal Musiala was absent from Germany’s two opening games against France and Portugal – although his eight-minute stint on the field against Hungary demonstrated just how crucial he is to any side.
After his introduction, the 18-year old immediately created the equalising goal in that 2-2 draw with his typically weaving, direct, and mesmerising style – a goal that saved Joachim Low’s men from a group stage exit.
He may have had very limited game time in Germany’s disappointing Euro 2020 campaign but he still managed to demonstrate his sensational quality.
We all know how brilliant this young man is – we didn’t need little glimpses at Euro 2020 to prove it.
But if anyone did, the fact that his introduction brought a certain life and thrust into midfield is proof enough that he’s already a game changer. Stints on the pitch against Croatia and Czech Republic in particular added a drive from deep that England undeniably lacked throughout the group stage and, at times, beyond.
There is little doubt that Jude Bellingham has a huge part in his country’s future, and Euro 2020 only confirmed it.
He also became the youngest ever player to appear at a European Championship after coming onto the field on matchday one – although Bellingham held the accolade for just a week courtesy of…
Yes, this guy.
Just under four months younger than Bellingham, Kacper Kozlowski took to the field for Poland against Spain to ruin the Englishman’s party.
Kozlowski, in general, interspersed occasional bright moments throughout fairly anonymous showings, but, to be fair, he is officially the youngest ever player at a Euros – and he’ll hold that record for at least four years, not a week.
It was all going so well for Matthijs De Ligt at this summer’s European Championships – until it wasn’t.
The 21-year old was kept out of the Netherlands’ opener with a groin strain, but his reintroduction to the lineup did the Oranje back line the world of good.
He immediately restored solidity, leadership, and composure to Frank De Boer’s defence and helped the side to 2-0 and 3-0 victories over Austria and North Macedonia respectively.
But it all came tumbling down with a 55th-minute handball in the last 16 against Czech Republic. Halting a move that would’ve seen the opposition clean through on goal with his hand, the defender was dismissed and eventually saw his colleagues fall to a 2-0 shock defeat.
That’s what his campaign will be remembered for – but let’s not forget the positive and crucial effect he has within the team.
Adam Hlozek couldn’t replicate his obscene domestic scoring record on the international stage this summer, although he certainly showed his threat.
The 18-year old had four stints on the pitch for Czech Republic throughout the tournament and proved that, with Patrik Schick up top, his understudying presence will make the Czechs a dangerous outfit for years to come.
The only part of Euro 2020 Bukayo Saka will keep firmly in the memory is his saved spot kick that gave Italy the victory in the final.
And it’s a tragedy that that moment has led to the vile treatment the 19-year old has suffered on social media – no one ever deserves such an onslaught of horrific abuse, and it seems people have been particularly quick to forget just how sensationally Saka performed this summer.
His surprisingly brilliant form saw him force his way into the starting XI, giving Gareth Southgate little choice but to play him over the likes of Foden, Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish.
He was an utter joy to watch, and deserves the whole country’s praise and support.
Neco Williams, like Saka, will likely only remember his horror moment at Euro 2020, unfortunately.
The Liverpool youngster’s calamitous clearance fell at the feet of Denmark’s Kasper Dolberg, who was able to finish calmly to make it 2-0 and write the Welsh out of the tournament at the last 16 stage.
It was a disastrous split-second and one that left the 20-year old distraught. And unfortunately, there wasn’t really all that much else to remember for Williams.
It was a summer of hits and misses for Spain, but one of their brightest sparks on the front foot was undoubtedly Ferran Torres.
The 21-year old tormented the majority of his opponents on either flank with tricky and direct dribbling, quick movement in behind, and quality end product that allowed him to bag two goals and really should have seen him get more than just the one assist he registered.
We’ve seen glimpses of his quality in the Premier League, and he’s just highlighted his worth on one of the biggest stages in world football.